Nkem Owoh popularly known as Osuofia is a seasoned actor whose remarkable in the movei Osuofia In London earned him recognition globally several years back and since then,he has kept ascending the ladder os success.Today,he is rated the biggest actor in Nollywood with his dept of acting prowess and professionalism.He emerged the highest paid actor few years and still stands unrivalled in his own space.The highly intellectual and talented veteran actor also holds sway as one of the best comicactors in Nigeria.Although he wears an unserious mein owing to the roles he plays in movies.Osuofia is a very principled and intelligent man who dumped his certificate as an Electrical Engineer to pursue his passion in acting,a move that his earned him fame and fortune.City people Vivian Onuorah met with the jovial actor who spoke on his career,marriage and how he copes with women who always flock around him
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH FANS COMING TO YOU WHENEVER THEY SEE YOU?
Its no longer new to me, infact am getting used to such encomiums and such crowd but I don’t enjoy crowd coming around me when am doing a private business, I feel so shy when am in a crowd when am doing my private business.Atimes because of management of my stardom, I hold myself back from allowing my anger to come out.
HOW DOES IT FEEL BEING ONE OF THE BIGGEST ACTS IN NOLLYWOOD?
It feels somehow if the realization comes to you that you are the biggest. I feel just like everybody and as a result of that, that psychology doesn’t bother me, if I start feeling big because people say am big, that’s when you start thinking of how to build a big bridge across around. I relate with everyone the same way, from the top to the least, I see my self as an ordinary person, it’s when the crowd begins to come that I go for security. Am not endowed so much with meat in my body and so any body can fling me around me around, that’s why I go for security.
You mentioned that you live partly in Enugu but Lagos seems to be where it’s happening, how do you transverse the two states?
I was in Lagos for 20 years,
Why did you leave Lagos?
That’s something that happens to people in developing, you don’t develop one place, if I need something that will have calabar thought I will come to calabar and shoot it, if I need something with Igbo theme I will come to the East and shoot,infact that’s exactly what brought me down here in the first place. If I shoot that kind of film in Lagos, to me it’s adulterated.
What kind of person is Osuofia outside the screen?
He is just like every other person; I love to learn from everybody. If you come to production ground, am more in tune with the personal assistants than the bourgeoisie in the industry. I feel freerer talking to people that are free. If I cannot come to you and talk to you free, then you are in prison and am not.
Having come this far, what has been the challenges?
A lot of challenges, and I still face them. There are two challenges as an individual and challenge of the industry. As an individual, the challenge is that people place you very high; the length of stardom is always greater than the length of your purse. In my own case, people think because am Osuofia in London, I must be stinking rich and they over access you.Thats why they feel so surprised when they see you communicating with every body. Its not as if your name is commensurate to your bank account ,it doesn’t work like that., I like the fact that my name has a lot in its account than my bank account, it can open doors and influence minds. Then also because I act comedy, everybody thinks am what I act on TV, if am moving around the road, you see some people calling me hey Osuofia come here let me give you some drinks but if you want to manage your stardom properly, you don’t rebuff or embrace the person, you just politely .Another challenge I have is my phone, people call me all the time. My phone is supposed to be a helper but its turning into a nuisance. I can eat, I can’t sleep, and I can’t rest because everybody wants you to make them happy. You may be in the middle of fracas, probably with your workers or in your family and somebody will just call, maybe a small boy and say, look make me happy. Or even market people will say Osuofia there is bad market oh, put us on a lighter mood, if you can’t manage it you explode. You simply politely wave and move on. For me I don’t answer calls, but if you write me a message I can call you back depending on the content.
It’s been widely reported that you charge about 2 million naira per movie and yet say your name is not commensurate with your account? Cuts in
What is 2million?why I say 2m is nothing is because when people hear that you are rich, everybody from your village, churches everybody around you will be tugging at your sleeves and then you find out that 2m will not stay 1 week if you are that kind of a person. But if there is no hullabaloo about your purse, there are certain things people wont come to you for but once they hear that amount they over access you. Infact I need a house full of money to solve my problem because I have some scholarships; I have people I pay salary I have a foundation for my people. I started from my village in Enugu; I have people on scholarships in primary, secondary and university.
Do you have an organization or foundation for all that?
No I don’t, I found out that people use foundations to make money and I don’t buy the idea, what I do is purely with my money. Instead of borrowing money to run a foundation I rather do the one I can, because that’s where scandals come in from.
Aside acting what else do you do?
I have a school but I have closed it down because my workers started playing games, I have a movie studio with camera chains that shoot both our personal movies and those for weddings, I have video clubs as well.
Have you produced your own movies?
I have been marketing my films ,I own my marketing company, NONKS,even if you look at some of the television programs on AIT, NTA,you will see post production,NONKS studio, I don’t have to come and begin to blow my trumpet.
How do you cope with female advances?
I cope very well.
How do you go about it?
It depends, if you don’t understand women, then you can’t cope with them. If you think women are charlatans that you feel like yes am a star and they should succumb to my will, then you cant cope with them, you have to understand that a woman is a human being you treat with respect. If I want to talk to a woman I appreciate, I approach her as if am nobody, I don’t like to use my fame when it comes to women,that is why I cope so well. Then if a woman now comes to impose herself on me, I get afraid because of security. I use to have male personal assistants but now I have replaced them with females. But I try to be polite and draw a line if because am a star and women are coming and so I should allow them to be coming, you will kill your star. In any case, I became a man before I became a star, there are people who stardom hit at a very young age and they get confused and to manage that stardom becomes a problem. To manage stardom is harder than being a star.
Because I have found out that the males are very ambitious, most of them are good but before you get to that point where you may want to tarnish me or someone else, am off. But women are more amenable. Not always loyal but in most cases, you can commune with their internal thoughts than with a man. A man will not allow you to penetrate but a woman will.
Any regrets so far?
No, if I come to the world again and the opportunity presents itself, I will be an actor if it will be as good as it is for me now.
Have you always wanted to be an actor from the onset?
I studied Engineering but am not practicing; the only time I practiced was when I worked briefly with an Engineering company. Acting has always been on my mind, even before I entered school. I was once in broad casting as well.
If you loved acting so much, why did you end up studying Engineering?
When acting exploded in Nigeria, I had finished reading what I wanted to read so you find out that when people think you are an above average student and you want to impress your parents, you have to read those courses that are big, and I was good at sciences. So I read Engineering so that my parents will be taking the accreditation that their son is reading Engineering. What is feeding me today is not what I read, am an Engineer by certificate and a showbiz personality by profession.
Yes, I have seen the pigments in some of them but I won’t pressure any of them. One of my daughters is very good in singing so I just bought a recorder and said to her whenever it comes, record every rubbish. (Laughs) and she has been doing it but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet.
You also had a stint with music, what happened?
The marriage between branches of art is so strong you can’t do one without the other. Indian film is all about acting and singing. Some of the big names in Hollywood are also acting, these things are interrelated.
Owing to your very busy schedule, how do you mange the home front?
Its just like you in office, I travel a lot and I always had an understanding with them, so also in the family, if you appeal to your wife and discuss with your wife, and she appreciates that this is where we make the money from, I don’t think she will mind only that you don’t have to over do it. What I do is I let my kids and wife understand am doing this it’s not right but if I don’t leave you I wont make this money. It’s a all about understanding. The only thing that causes trouble is when your family queries your absence and you begin to shout but if you explain to them, they will understand.